ELY- Chilly morning temperatures and several inches of fresh snow on the trail only added to the excitement of race day here last Sunday, as mushers from across the country descended on Ely for this …
ELY- Chilly morning temperatures and several inches of fresh snow on the trail only added to the excitement of race day here last Sunday, as mushers from across the country descended on Ely for this year’s running of the WolfTrack Classic.
Mushers competed in both six-dog and eight-dog classes for prize money and bragging rights. Conditions and times were similar to last year, and Ashley Thaemert, of Cook, was the repeat winner in the six-dog class, besting her 2022 time by 12 minutes. Heather O’Brien, of Cook, was the winner in the eight-dog class.
Six-dog teams ran a 30-mile course, mostly along the Taconite Trail, with a turnaround at Purvis Lake. Eight-dog teams ran a 50-mile course along the Taconite, with an extended turnaround loop that included a crossing of Bear Head Lake.
Saturday vet check
The dog sled teams reported in with the race vet, Dr. Chip Hanson, between 3 and 5 p.m. at the Vermilion Campus of Minnesota College North. Hanson and two veterinary interns checked the dogs’ immunization records. In the past, Hanson said he used to inspect all of the dogs before they raced. “We have found that it’s not necessary for this race,” he said, noting that a close inspection of each dog’s health wasn’t crucial given the short duration of the race. In the past, the WolfTrack course was much longer, formerly extending all the way to Cook and back.
The check-in and immunization check were followed by the Vermilion Campus’ Wilderness Club Musher Dinner. The fundraiser dinner was an all-you-can-eat spaghetti affair which packed the college’s cafeteria.
The top eight places in both the eight-dog and six-dog categories all received prize money. The top eight in the eight-dog category were Heather O’Brien with a time of 4:20:18, Rita Wehseler (4:24:36), Brian Bergen (4:31:47), Bucky Tippett (4:35:48), Shown McCarty (4:36:25), Nick Vigilante (4:41:26), Neal Seeger (4:43:34), and Scott Edgett (4:47:22).
The top eight places in the six-dog category were Ashley Thaemert with a time of 2:11:48, Erin Schouweiler (2:12:56), Clayton Schneider (2:15:52), Steve Goedken (2:17:39), Derek Nechuta (2:19:25), Dusty Klaven (2:26:19), Julia Cross (2:36:01), and Ann Stead (2:38:23).